The issue of inequality especially in terms of racism has been a favorite topic and themes in literature, film and other forms of entertainment. This has been widely explored, wherein the often victims are black Americans. Their individuality and sense of identity is often associated with slavery and inferiority. The theme of racial inequality within black and white community seems conventional. However, in the film “Do the Right Thing” directed by Spike Lee, the issue of racism is not only limited with African American people but the film explored the possibilities of inequality in other cultures as well.
Racism basically encourages stereotype-based prejudices towards individuals and group of people according to their race which often creates conflict and eventually violence. Most victims of racism especially the blacks in many forms of entertainment are illustrated as “too defensive” and “too suspicious” victims which makes them assume that they are always the victim. They violated many laws in the name of justice. In this movie, the narrative will both justify and antagonize their situation.
They are somehow wrong because they are breaking the human law that promotes peace, but you can not blame them because they need violence for self defense and physical survival. In this film, I learned that in order to understand a human person and in order to not judge them immediately, one must see the two sides of the coin. The movie “The Do Right Thing” explores the inner city life and struggles of American racism particularly on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn in one of the hottest day of the year.
The characters are a combination of different race and cultures whose hate and bigotry to each other explodes into violence. Blacks dominate the setting where they do all the buying, while Koreans sell vegetables and Italians serve the pizza. Apparently, blacks are not sole victim here of racial inequality which is often conventional in literature and entertainment. The conflict on this film is more on human personal differences rather than racial orientation. The conflicting issues cover more on personal, social and economic matters.
However in this film, the issue of racial differences has been also illustrated but the screenplay clearly empathized with all the participants exposing or justifying the racial flashpoint of each, whether he is a Korean, Italian or Black American. There are no villains or heroes. As the story paints the life’s details of every person, one will come to understand or emphasized why a particular character committed violence and so therefore every body is somehow justified.
The film ends with two quotations, one from Martin Luther King Jr. , advocating non-violence, and the other from Malcolm X, advocating violence “if necessary. ” These quotations show that the movie is balance, as it sees no villains and heroes. In advocating non violence, the characters apparently did the wrong thing but what if they only committed it out of self defense? Violence is sometimes inevitable to the human beings.
The story’s plot underscores this conflict with the film’s closing quotes, showing Malcolm and Martin’s differing viewpoints on the use of violence in the struggle for respect and human rights. However, the final image in the film is that of the two great leaders smiling and shaking hands, showing that these two viewpoints are not entirely irreconcilable. These two quotes pose the audience with question whether they truly “did the right thing”.
Moreover, in the film, the characters experienced tragedy because they clouded their minds with suspicion and defensiveness towards racism. They all wanted not to be a victim but in the end their suspicion to each other guided their actions. The movie challenges the different racial groups to co exist with justice, human respect and compassion. If this will be their attitude, they don’t need to ponder further whether “they are doing the right thing” and eventually they will not encounter confusions anymore whether the use of violence will be justifiable.
Meanwhile, the good thing about this film is that the director together with its screenplay and script doest not panders for political correctness nor does it sermonize but rather this film introduces a group of characters from different cultural background and sets up the narrative to play out. The issue of whether what the characters did is right or wrong depends on the audience. Reference: Lee S. (Producer/ Director). Do the Right thing [motion picture].
Courtney from Study Moose